San Francisco-based Wonolo recently announced client relationships with affiliated companies Unum and Colonial Life, two of the largest players in the so-called “voluntary benefits” insurance sector. Wonolo (which stands for Work. Now. Locally.) is a work-intermediation-platform (WIP) business that allows businesses to temporarily engage local workers for specific types of jobs (or if you prefer, gigs). These newly announced new client engagements in the insurance segment reflect the versatility of the company and the platform to provide valuable, innovative workforce solutions across a range of different use cases.
Unum and Colonial Life Use Case
Companies like Unum and Colonial Life provide benefits products like life, disability, accident and critical care insurances that are sold directly to employees, most frequently at an employer’s worksite. This practice, traditionally referred to as “work site marketing,” requires organizing and scheduling events with employers and deploying the voluntary benefits companies’ “benefits counselors” to advise and enroll. Enrollment events can be scheduled in different locations at different times, and there can also be peak periods of activity (employers tend schedule worksite marketing events during their “open enrollment” periods), so the challenge of deploying “enrollers” (which must be state-licensed for some benefit products) is quite apparent.
In insurance and other services businesses, distribution is a strategic source of competitive advantage — cost, customer experience and compliance must be carefully managed and optimized. Unum and Colonial Life found that Wonolo’s workforce solution platform — designed to enable local, short-term work activities with efficiency, speed and control — could help them address the logistical challenges of engaging and deploying their in-the-vicinity counselors at different employer locations at different dates and times.
“One of the main aspects of our growth strategy is forming collaborative relationships with organizations that can help us rapidly evolve and acquire new capabilities,” said Richard Shaffer, vice president of enrollment at Colonial Life, in a Wonolo’s press release. “Wonolo has provided us with a new way to manage and develop our workforce and helped us embrace change to better serve our customers.” Because, according to the press release, millions of on-site, “agent-assisted enrollment” transactions take place each year, it is imperative to have “clear visibility into counselor supply to identify and deploy the right counselors quickly.”
Unum and Colonial Life implemented Wonolo in 2015 in select test markets before rolling out Wonolo nationally in 2016, enabling the companies to optimize access to qualified benefits counselors across the country and arrange rapid deployment. “As a result, the businesses decreased the typical time to schedule needed benefits enrollers from several days to just minutes or hours by sending out job opportunities through the Wonolo app and getting immediate responses from local individuals who can fill those roles.”
More on Wonolo
We also had an opportunity to discuss these developments with Wonolo Co-founder and CEO Yong Kim. Kim told us the engagement with Colonial and Unum was a pure-play SaaS technology arrangement, within which the clients entered into an agreement to pay for the use of the platform according to a fairly typical SaaS pricing model. With the platform’s capabilities and APIs, the clients — with Wonolo support — could basically configure the fit-for-purpose solution and integrate with other internal systems for their specific needs. Kim emphasized that, in this case, all workforce management activities (across sourcing, vetting, hiring, paying) were solely in the purview of the clients. While other types of businesses have used Wonolo’s technology in different ways, this is its first application leveraging a pure-play technology platform model in the insurance industry segment.
Kim also said that Wonolo currently has two other platform delivery/business models.
“The first of those, and the most longstanding model, consists of connecting companies with workers that have been sourced/vetted by us via our technology platform. Today we address the sourcing needs within light industrial/commercial and hospitality jobs in retail, ecommerce, logistics, food & beverages and events. These (over 20,000) workers (Wonoloers), which have registered with our platform and have been vetted by us, are located in several major U.S. cities.”
Lastly there is the hybrid model where companies bring together their own workers (employees or contractors) as well as the Wonolo-sourced workers on our platform and get their jobs filled depending on their priorities and preferences.
Spend Matters View
Spend Matters has been covering work intermediation platforms, explaining and demonstrating their importance and evolution as new digital channels for sourcing and managing labor, talent and services, for some time now, and we have been following Wonolo’s evolution from a very early stage.
From our standpoint, one of the essential characteristics of a real platform is its versatility — that is, the potential to address use cases across different market segments with multiple platform delivery/business models. But it is one thing for that potential to remain latent, and it is altogether another thing to execute successfully in a business setting. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests Wonolo is doing just that. Therefore, we will be analyzing Wonolo in greater depth in the coming months.
To learn more about Wonolo, visit the website www.wonolo.com.